BayCon: Dispatch 4

Kage Baker loved staying in hotels. I think is was actually why she consented to go to conventions at all – the stress of being on panels and meeting people was assauged by the availability of comfortable bars and restaurants with two forks at a setting. Two forks was one of her criteria for elegence.

I must admit, spending a few days in a nice hotel is a wonderful vacation. Even if one must at intervals venture out and earn one’s keep on a panel – the conference rooms are nice, the company could not be more amiable, and one gets to perform a little. Having a pre-selected and interested audience was something not even Kage could resist.

My first panel today was on “First Contact and Politics”. It was very interesting, and quite surprised me. First: almost universally, examples of First Contact scenariae were taken from genre media – mostly televisiion shows, like Star Trek and Stargate. And most others came from science fiction stories. Personally, though I am well-read in science fiction, I prefer to contemplate First Contact in terms of actual history.

While we have no idea of what the aliens will be like when we finally encounter them, the chance of their being anything humanoid is low; let alone some breed of humanoid with whom we can share proteins and sex … we’ll be lucky if we can identify their sensory organs enough to read an expression.

Second, we won’t know until it is literally too late just what their First Contact habits are – but we have ample proof of what ours have been. And the human record of First Contact, on either side of the equation, is almost universally tragic. My own immediate ancestors include several kinds of Celt, and a soupcon of East Coast Amerindian – a veritable variety pack of subsumed and assimilated natives.

I personally feel that no government is competent to deal with aliens, and that in most cases we here on Earth are screwed. Nonetheless, it makes for an endlessly interesting subject of discussion – from the Keynsian economist to the Native American activist to the earnest Northern European  lady who felt that colonial rule was not all that bad … I think the human race should prepare for guerilla tactics and hard dealings and that most political stgructures will  collapse.

It’ll sure be interesting times.

Next up: “The Biology of Mythical Beasts”.  I can hardly wait – one of the panelists is the veterinarian student from yestreday’s discussion of “Animal Husbandry In Space”.  That young man has a fascinating vision.

Aaaaand … back in the room afte Mythological Beasts. What a riot! A panel of 8, an uninterested moderator, a crammed audience, and much hoisting of skirts to display frilly panties. Metaphorically speaking, anyway. The vet student has an extraordinarily constricted view of the animal kingdom, and I hope (for their sake) that all his future patients are already mythological. They will be soon, if not.

Nonetheless, it was fun, in a sleep-over party sort of way.  I mostly listened and gave focus, and did not try to steal the younger folks’ fun. I can be a nice old lady when I try. However, I was (once more) slightly horrified at how many references were drawn from popular visual media: cartoons. Pokemon. My Little Pony. Whatever happened to Bullfinch’s Mythology, or Ovid’s Metamorphoses?


And the reading is done and behind me. It was my very first reading, Dear Readers – the first time I read out a portion of a story I have written and no one has heard. I think it went well. The audience outnumbered the panel (always to be desired) and I timed it just right. I gave them the opening to Marswife, right after the bomb in the Olympus Mons arethermal power plant goes off and takes out Mars II.

There were 3 of us, each asked to read a Mars-themed passage from a book or story. The other two authors were venerable pros, and quite good: but my story had the hardest science! One of them was writing about white-water rafting on a post-terraformed Mars, and aside from it’s being post-terraforming, it might as well have been set in Colorado. The other was a psychological thriller set on a returning Mars mission during a long slog home to Earth.

I was inordinately pleased with myself. I shall beg forgiveness for my boasting; but it was my first time, and it did go awfully well …

More fascinatingly odd people are everywhere, including lots of nuns and clerics; dog collars abound. So do real ones, but those are on the local space Goths. This year, faerie wings are worn by small girls only, apparently – accessorised with tiny glowing LED beads in the hair; a charming effect. Wonder Women are frequent. So are the Girl Ghost Busters, with their unlicensed particle accelerators on their backs. I have been embraced by affectionate Security guards crying “Mother!” – to the confusion of strangers – because you can’t take me hardly anywhere without encountering someone I have nurtured at Faire.

All is well. I have my Kindle and a bag of Whopper Malt Balls; Michael has Coke, and of course Neassa always has her emergency stash of chocolates in her bag. So we are set for the evening. Tomorrow: a panel on the last 50 years of Mars exploration. Another on the next 50 years. And bacon and eggs for breakfast.


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to BayCon: Dispatch 4

  1. Becky Miller says:

    I want to go with you next time!


    • Kate says:

      Oh, man, it would be so great to have you along! Yes, yes, yes! Now I need to find a convention in Las Vegas again, too, so I can visit you!


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